TUCKER – One of Georgia Baptists’ most gracious and gentle Christian gentleman, James O. Coldiron, 91, passed away on Friday, July 7 surrounded by his family. After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II, he was called into a lifetime of Christian service.
Through the years Coldiron served as a senior pastor, missionary, evangelist, and crusade director/consultant for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He also served as a consultant to the North American Mission Board and formerly served as regional coordinator for the East Central United States, Hawaii, and the Marianas Islands.
Coldiron served as director of Evangelism for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan and held other offices related to Baptist work. He also served as a pastor in Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio.
He attended and studied at Middletown Business College, Middletown, OH; Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY; Trinity Theological Seminary, Newburgh, IN; Miami University, Oxford, OH; and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City. He earned B.A., M. Div. and Ph. D degrees.
‘A humble servant’
Coldiron was a prolific writer and published numerous articles. He preached over 500 revivals and crusades, and led in many denominational, church, and affiliated Christian ministries. In recent years he was an active leader in First Baptist Church of Lilburn.
In his sermon “The Love of God,” Coldiron proclaimed, “From Genesis to Revelation, from earth’s greatest tragedy to earth’s greatest triumph, the dramatic story of man’s lowest depths and God’s highest heights can be couched into a condensation of twenty-five beautiful words: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’”
Susan Rumble, Member Care and Senior Adult administrator at First Baptist Lilburn, explained, “Dr. Jim Coldiron was indeed a humble servant who worked faithfully through the years to see people know and experience the saving grace of Jesus whom he loved with all his heart, mind, and strength.
“Personally,” continued Rumble, “It was a honor to know him. He was faithful in attendance here at First Baptist; and he was such an encourager and always ready to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. For example, when I asked him in April of 2017 to lead a Good Friday service at a local assisted living facility, he did not hesitate to help. He conducted the service with his usual ready smile and passion for Jesus. Shortly, thereafter he was diagnosed with cancer.”
Always about evangelism
Mike Minnix, the pastor of the Coldirons at Lilburn First Baptist Church, stated, “I knew Jim Coldiron for almost 25 years. I met Jim when we were both graduating with our doctorate degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary. When he learned that I was pastor at First Baptist Lilburn, he said that he was coming to visit. He and his wife came and they stayed.
“What an amazing man he was! He had a heart for evangelism and worked for years training counselors for the BGEA. He and I worked together on evangelism at Lilburn, and then when I became vice president for evangelization for Georgia Baptists, he met with me often to help us formulate plans to be more effective in reaching people with the Gospel.
“Even after I retired and moved back to North Carolina, Jim and I were working on a plan to expand some evangelistic work here before he became ill.
“The moment I heard he had gone home to the Lord, I felt a loneliness without him being in this world doing God’s work, but I know he had an amazing homecoming in the presence of the One whom he shared so often and in so many ways with people around the world.”
It has been duly noted that many of the men who have been associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have lived long, productive lives. George Beverly Shea, the singer for the Graham Crusades, lived to be 104. Cliff Barrows, the choir director and crusade song leader, lived to be 93. Organist Ted Hustad lived to be 94, and Dr. Graham will celebrate his 99th birthday in November.
Coldiron is survived by Bonnie, his wife of almost 67 years, daughter Sandy Choate (Gary), son Steve (Jane), son Dr. Tim, grandchildren Matthew (Kelly), Jonathan, Stephanie, and great-grandchildren Jackson and Parker.